"My Skin is Against Me": Critical Race Theory & Baseball
By: Eric Proctor
“My skin is against me. If I had not been quite so black, I might have caught on as a Spaniard or something of that kind. The race prejudice is so strong that my black skin barred me.” -Bud Fowler, 1895.[i]
It is often said that baseball is America's game. We invented baseball and have watched it evolve from pick-up games in the Elysian fields to a multi-billion dollar industry. Or so the story goes. Baseball's history mirrors America's history. And much like America's history, baseball's history is scarred with segregation and continuous mistreatment of African Americans.
For decades Critical Race Theorists have pointed out the effects that institutional racism has on African Americans as a whole. Through legal scholarship, social science studies, and storytelling, Critical Race Theorists point out instances of racism and suppression that are inherent in American society. In this regard, baseball and its history again parallels America. Baseball is a sport that has been and continues to be controlled by white elites. This control is exemplified by a race-based critiquing of baseball's power structure and the dominate narrative of baseball's history.
Part II of this article discusses baseball as a structure in which white owners and front office executives maintain power and control over baseball. Part III tells a counter narrative to the white-dominated narrative that permeates in the telling of baseball's history. Through this examination, Critical Race Theory, which critically examines race relations in America, is also shown to be a useful tool in analyzing race in America's favorite past time.